Thursday, 30 April 2015

SMWS May 2015 Outturn

This month’s outturn is brought to you by the flavour of mint, and plenty of restraint!  And a couple of curve balls – a Balblair and a Penderyn?

There are a couple of Laphroaigs missing in action here – not in the London bar until Tuesday apparently.  One of which is in the outturn, the other, who knows!

G7.8 Sweet seduction in a car-wash, Girvan, 30 years old, 59.5% B⊕

28th May 1984, 264, refill hogshead.  After my recent vertical with Phil Storry I had high hopes for this old Girvan, but this wasn’t the full package for me I’m afraid.

20150429_164121Nose - A really elegant, quite dark fruit oak character, some toffee and a hint of peat structure. With water, opens up with darker wood, a bit more interesting.

Body - Sweet, bright, spicy, gentle oak. Sweeter with water, some lemongrass, but an unbalanced wood. Just not that interesting unfortunately.

Finish - Very oily, slightly cloying. Perfumed. Disappointing overall.

70.10 Teenage Shenanigans, 9 years old, 58.5% A+

11th May 2005, 242 bottles, refill bourbon

20150429_165347Nose - Mint toffee, sweet but bright with a touch of poster paints, and some cheap bakewell tart. There quite a nice balanced dustiness - that'll be the pastry in the cheap tart. Seaweed fertiliser. It's like some of those recent Royal Bracklas - sweet but earthy.

Body - The immediate delivery is… watery? But then bright and sweet with menthol tobacco and cherry, then spicy and ripe cereal.

Finish - Medium, good musk, Sichuan peppercorns. But quite flat near the end.

77.38 Why? Why not?, Glen Ord, 14 years old, 52.2% A

15h March 2000, 213 bottles, refill bourbon

20150429_170957Nose - Sweet and winey, lots of barley, dusty, not fascinating. Sharp mineral. Quite young. After tasting, some pleasant cherry ripe bar.

Body - Spicy, warm barley, very sweet oak. Lacks integration but tasty enough.

Finish - Medium, obvious oak, some spice, but good balancing sweetness. After all is gone, it leaves chewed barley. Good structure, a little challenging, interesting but ultimately young and a bit obvious. But a solid young SMWS dram.

BUY

73.70 Frivolously fresh, with playful spices, Aultmore, 15 years old, 56% B+

14th May 1999, 215 bottles, refill bourbon

20150429_172205Nose - Immediately bright, sour varnish and volatiles, fruit toffee (probably strawberry?), mandarin, restrained. Some acrylic, some new carpet.

Body - Young and awkward. Spicy, oaky. Extra strong mints. Herbal - and with water, a little almond tart.

Finish - Fizzing citrus - grapefruit. Weirdly minty and citrussy and those two things don't really go.

42.15, Oscillations of light and shade, Ledaig, 19 years old, 58.6% A+

23rd May 1995, 206, refill bourbon

20150429_173254Nose - Bright, juicy pineapple - tinned pineapple, including the tin. Pastry - warm milk tart, and Windolene.

Body - Lovely, sweet, structured and juicy, with a lightly medicinal peat structure. Apple and after eight mints.

Finish - Long oaky and numbing, with more lingering Sichuan peppercorns.

BUY

46.31, Sniffing a bees knees, Glenlossie, 22 years old, 54.2% A⊕

16th September 1992, 253 bottles, refill bourbon

20150429_175155Nose - Sweet, rich and honeyed with orange and mango juice. Very tropical in fact, with dried mango, toasted coconut and dried mint.

Body - Rich, rich oak, juicy tropical fruit and beautiful wax. Toasty and delicious.

Finish - Numbing, top notes of fresh mint. Good stuff, a complex and balanced dram. Water brings a little touch of sulphur that works very well. Beautiful stuff.

BUY

128.5, As purple as Prince!, Penderyn, 9 years old, 60.2% A⊕

10th Jan 2006, 213 bottles, 1st fill bourbon

20150429_180818Nose - Cheap Neapolitan ice cream, complete with freezer burn. Rich, sweet oak, more damn mint, some dry chocolate cake with chocolate butter icing. Hoisin sauce. It's good, its rich and sweet - very sweet with lots of glace cherry. Maybe a bit obvious? Splitting hairs.

Body - Beautifully rich, sweet and sherried. Also a great big, bruising and beautifully done bourbon cask. Beautiful

Finish - Long, loads of pastry, coconut, ripe cereal. Lingering liquorice imps.

BUY

36.85, Vitality balanced by maturity, Benrinnes, 23 years old, 52.7% A+

29th October 1991, 192, 2nd fill bourbon

20150429_182327Nose - Woody herbs, pine, more mint, lavender, stew and mash with slow cooked carrots.

Body - Sweet, great sulphur, juicy orange and quite spicy.

Finish - Numbing grapefruit. Quite short. It's competent, tasty but quite anonymous.

7.116, It's good to arrive, Longmorn, 29 years old, 58.5% A+

24th September 1985, 116 bottles, refill bourbon.  Only available at the bar.  Following on from last month’s esoteric 7 (7.113, also only available at the bar), I have high hopes.

20150429_183947Nose - Classy toffee, elegant but again, restrained. Cherry clafoutis, ripe plum, baked in sweet wine with vanilla. Some sweet sherry tones, good seasoned oak, a touch of Christmas tree.

Body - Deep, musky oak and ripe, fizzing baked fruits. Water brings out the age a little more, better wood.

Finish - A touch of washing powder, some fruit crumble. Very long with waxy, oily fruit. A good, old, fruity Longmorn, not totally blown away though (given the price, £137)

4.207, Fulsome sweetness - quietly brooding peat, Highland Park, 19 years old, 54.6% A⊕

30th November 1995, 208 bottles, refill bourbon

20150429_185314Nose - Initial impressions are gentle peat, quite young? Peach cobbler, mint toffee, aspirin and a little Germolene. Dried rosemary, flaky old paint, and a little wham bar.

Body - Sweet, gloriously waxy HP. Spicy toffee and a touch of baked apple. The touch of peat really rounds the whole thing out and brings it together. Thank god for that!

Finish - Great toffee, medium length, ripe and balanced. Spicy and almost winey at the end. Beautiful.

BUY

93.63, Unapologetic non-conformist, Glen Scotia, 15 years old, 56.1% A⊖

30th Jun 1999, 275 bottles, refill bourbon

20150429_191446Nose - Sweet, fresh cut vegetables - carrots, peas. HP sauce. Roast cauliflower with raisins. Yes there's a backnote of "bad" sulphur. But it carries ok on the nose, we'll see…

Body - Sweet and funky, wet cardboard and spicy sulphur. Retronasally vegetal. Oddly compelling but not exactly pleasant.

Finish - Long, sulphured and spicy. Pepper. Massive, brutal hit of natural gas at the end.

This is a hard one to score - the whisky itself is rather good, but the sulphur is rather bad. That makes it an A⊖ on my scale (good with a big flaw), and it's a serious flaw. If you're at all sulphur sensitive (Jon) you should steer clear of this.

66.64, A blacksmith at a barbeque, Ardmore, 10 years old, 62% A-

5th October 2004, 272, 1st fill white wine

20150429_192530Nose - Deep, spicy and beautiful white wine influence with grapey oak and jelly sweets. Beautifully sweet smoky bacon and toffee. Toasty and interesting. Good stuff.

Body - Rich and toasty, but then massive spice, and a touch of sulphur.

Finish - Medium, buttery sulphur. Spicy boiled sweets. It's got the vegetal sulphur again though.

10.83, Incredibly Awesome, Bunnahabhain, 9 years old, 58.8% A⊕

20th December 2005, 192 bottles, refill bourbon

20150429_191034Nose - Beautifully sweet, briney Islay peat. Sharp and young, but balanced and fresh, with white flowers and sweet barley. A breath of fresh air after the last two. Also, brightly citrus, like breaking into a big, Florida orange.

Body - Juicy and fresh, bright citrus and maritime (ozone and seaweed), massively citrus like grapefruit and oak. Beautiful.

Finish - Flowers and jelly, medium, citrus peat. Not quite incredibly awesome but very, very good.

BUY

127.43, Kissing a smoker, Port Charlotte, 12 years old, 65% A⊕+

21st June 2002, 228 bottles, refill bourbon

20150429_194825Nose - Enormously deep and sour, bright, balancing cereal and plums, oil paints, more orange and wine. Fireworks (literally and figuratively). Deep and intense.

Body - It's a massive and balanced Islay bruiser; TCP and bandages, pear drops and barley. Balanced, and compelling.

Finish - Numbing like cigarette tar on the lips, medium to long and very good. Epic!, in fact.

SMWS 3.241, Bowmore, Seaside smoke, 16 years old, 55.9% A⊕

25th Sep 1998, refill bourbon, 91 bottles.  This is supposed to be in the May outturn but has been in bars for a while, and now I’m not sure it’ll make it into any outturn.  Time to publish, either way.

20150331_183306_resizedNose - Dark, ripe and elegant. Old books (lignen), hot chips with salt and vinegar, yesterdays bonfire, sun baked long grass, driftwood. Dry and musky. But now very vanilla cream and pastry. Lovely, with an almost laphroaig backnote.

Body - Spicy and very, very sweet. But with a strange winey note. An echo of the parma violets, dusty, very sweet but incredibly tannic. Wonderful, but quite stern.

Finish - Long, balanced, complex and challenging. A fascinating mid teens Bowmore, old beyond its years with a real Laphroaig peat character to it.

BUY

3.243, Dark, smouldering flamenco gypsy, 17 years old, 57.1% A+

594 bottles, refill butt.  Special Feis Ile 2015 label and collar.  This is out in the June outturn but as it’s been announced for Feis Ile and Islay house, here’s the review.

20150429_195706Nose - Bright, clean, sweet sherry. Raisins, Vimto, good intensity but somewhat drowning in sherry cask. Roast pork with hoisin glaze, custard bun, a little caramelised.

Body - Sweet, big peat, lots of wood, treacle, fruit n' fibre, liquorice tobacco

Finish - Soft, sweet and a little cloying. Some big, classy wood at the end.

Good, clean and hangs together, but the Bowmore is lost in the sherry. I know you want to BUY this, and you should, you definitely should - and the label is cool. But probably not if you already have gallons of recent SMWS Bowmore.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

An ode to Islay 9: Port Ellen

Port_Ellen_56.2%-1979_22Port Ellen is of course, an Islay distillery that closed in 1983.  Another one of these malt distilleries where everything was destined for blends, so nothing got aged, nobody thought the young whisky was that special, so it shut based on commercial pressures.  On returning to the fully matured casks some decades longer, you discover the whisky is actually totally fabulous but you’ve stopped making the whisky.  Damn. 

Port Ellen comes out regularly in the Diageo Special Releases from a reportedly ever dwindling supply – 2013 SR had the 13th release, and the 2014 SR had the 14th release.  Prices are stratospheric.  Apart from those two the only other PE I’ve tried is a 13 year old SMWS bottling from Chris Davis’ stash.  All have been amazing.

Both of the whiskies I’ve saved up for this tasting were very generously donated to me by people I’d never met at the time, except through twitter.  That’s whisky for you!

Port Ellen, The Golden Cask, 27 years old, 51.8% A⊕+

Thanks a million to Craig at Green Welly for the mini!

20150426_104936Nose - Goodness me - intense and intensely sweet.  Rich and fruity with black cherry, burnt wood, some dusty deodorant and deep sherry tones.  There’s also a really savoury note with fried raisins and onions, and quite dirty with lurking sulphur and marker pens.  The sweetness is also beautifully dusty with that old Islay wood and fizzers.  Beautiful stuff.

Body - Soft, oddly flat at the start, with old sherry.  Then picks up with spice and toffee, and poached pears.  

Finish - Long, sweet with parmas, fizzing and a little spicy.  Then flat again at the end, with an unbalanced bitterness.  Long after tasting it, there’s an echo of Islay peat and big tannins.  Despite that flatness, a massive whisky.

What’s not good about it - A bit soft in the delivery?

What’s good about it - That wonderful old Port Ellen nose - otherworldly.  Sweet, darky, dusty and alien. Love it.  

Port Ellen, 9th Release, 30 years old, 57.7% A⊕⊕

Enormous thanks to Franck for this sample.  I’m slowly rationing my way through the wonderful set of samples he sent me!

Mar15-PortEllen9thReleaseNose - Sweet, sharp and sour, with a backnote of cardboard and wet oak.  Intense sour plums, perfect oak, soft toffee.  Antique, beeswaxed desk and fountainpen ink.  Waxier and waxier - beeswax candles, sweet lemon wax, sealing wax?  An enormous, beautiful nose.

Body - Richly wooded, beautifully spiced, perfectly poised throughout - no flatness on delivery for this beauty.  Perfect toffee lemon sweetness and blonde oak balance.  

Finish - Extremely long and a continuous development, mouthfilling with sweet lemon, mango, oak, wax and spice. 

What’s not good about it - only availability and cost.

What’s good about it - An enormous, mind-altering, evolving whisky, with perfect balance, poise, integration and loads of tropical wood and wax.  

That’s all folks!

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

An ode to Islay 8: Laphroaig

laphroaigA common gateway whisky for many of my friends and colleagues – Laphroaig Quarter Cask was the whisky that flipped the bit for me.  Laphroaig 10 is an absolute classic and something you can reliably buy in a normal bar, in a small tumbler, and have a whisky experience. That TCP, intense malt and sense of rightness is what does it (“The most richly flavoured of all Scotch whiskies”).  This is why the “dumbing down of Laphroaig” (Laphroaig Select, PX) causes outbursts of weeping and gnashing of teeth.  While I quite like Select, it’s not really in the same class of whiskies as Laphroaig 10.  And nothing says Laphroaig like the Signatory sherry cask for TWE back in 2013.  So – I have a deep love for Laphroaig, but a concern for the future.  And I need to lay down that case of quarter cask before they take it away from me…

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014, 51.4% A+

laphroaig-cairdeas-2014-edition-whiskyNose - At first, harsh cereal, a touch of hashish and pencil shavings.  Some bitter candle wax and a touch of cumin.  Sweet green Turkish chillis and deep fried... something.  Peanuts?  Or battered fish with lemon juice?  Then, acrylic paint and suddenly a load of cigarette tobacco.  A vinegar edge which may be the link with the deep fried feeling.  Deep down there’s the ever present intense Islay sweetness and toffee.  Actually there’s something like engine oil in there or some other lubricant - classic bike stuff.

Body - Sour, toasted peanuts and ash.  Lemon, orange and pear.  Oddly bright but with toffee at the back of the palate.

Finish - Long, sharp coal tar and grapefruit.  Bitter ash riding to the end with the deep sweetness.  

What’s not good about it - At first it’s a little harsh and sour, and so quite challenging.  And yes it’s very yellow.

What’s good about it - Complex, challenging, interesting and unapologetically weird. This is like a bottle of homebrew where the brewer has started with a solid base and added a few crazy things - grapefruit, coffee beans, charred lumps of oak – and by luck has come up with something that hangs together rather well.  Intense peat is weird anyway I guess, but we’re used to it - and needs sweetness to balance it.  Adding extra other weird stuff isn’t that unreasonable, and it balances out, mostly in the sour notes.  

I really like this, and bought a bottle - although I can’t see me opening it in a hurry.

Laphroaig 2001, Old Particular, 14 years old, Feis Ile 2015, 48.4% B+

Refill butt #10694.  A Feis Old Particular!  And very expensive to boot!  It’s Laphroaig though, go on then.  Better be good.

laphroaig-14yo-old-particular-feis-2015Nose - Mucky (good), sour, granite peat.  Quite young, like a young Bunna.  Toast with honey, salt and vinegar crisps.  Competent, interesting, but not really pushing my buttons.  Mind you, my buttons have had a right good pushing recently. With water, sweeter, sourer and muckier.  A touch of privet hedge and some trifle (sponge fingers and cream).

Body - Light, winey, some jelly sweets, a touch of gentle “new style” Laphroaig peat, more gentle, young bunna.  With water, just a bit boring.  

Finish - Long, dirty cereal, then garage, and bran flakes.

What’s not good about it - Quite a boring delivery, barely Laphroaigy and well overpriced.

What’s good about it - There’s some good, dirty musk on the nose, waxy and with a touch of swimming pool.  Promises much.  Interesting with water on the nose.

Laphroaig: Warehouse Cask #127, 2005, 59.2%  A⊕+

25cl bought as part of the water to whisky tour that Johnnie Stumbler was on.  I owe so much to the Stumbler, but this is a big one for me. I called the distillery after tasting this and confirmed I can think again if I think I’m going to sweet talk anyone into giving me more of this remotely.  Thank you JS for sharing a sample of this very special Laphroaig with me!

souvenirNose - Perfumed peat, lemon boiled sweets, patchouli joss sticks, dark toffee, wood, wood, wood and sawdust.  Swimming pools.  Makes me remember rehearsal studios and A-levels.  I think it’s because these basically taste of smoking beedis.  

Body - Eeeesh - dark toffee peat, and intensity.  Perfect balance and integration.  Heated plastic.  Young and insanely confident.  

Finish - Long, numbing, perfect peat and soap.  Tannic, like overbrewed tea. Cracked black pepper and lolly sticks.  Just so addictive.

What’s not good about it - Nothing if you like Laphroaig.  Apart from the fact you can’t buy it, although I suppose you could go on four £80 distillery tours.

What’s good about it - Single cask Laphroaig perfection.  Challenging, elegant, evocative, integrated, individual and totally beautiful. Why do I have a litre of Laphroaig PX and 3cl of this?  Something not right there.

Laphroaig, PX Cask, 48% B+

laphroaig_px_cask_triple_matured-pNose – This is the best part of the PX.  I’ve been working my way through this bastard for a long time.  God I hate travel retail litres. Ripe, sweet fruits – cherry sweets, juicy apple – interwoven with mature, musky, laph peat and oak. 

Body – Middle of the road, yet lacks midrange?  A triumph.  It has a winey sweetness that follows on from the nose, but gentle, gentle, gentle. 

Finish – Quite long actually, dry and competent. 

What’s not good about it – The delivery is too gentle.  Basically, I’m having the same reaction as Yoav had to Select.  I’ve only just realised.

What’s good about it – Beautiful, sweet, winey nose, complex and mushroomy.  Competent delivery.

Elements of Islay Lp4, 54.8% A⊕

elem_lp4Nose - Oh yes... bright, oiled, lemon boiled sweets and perfumed peat - juicy tobacco and more sweet joss sticks.  A really juicy blend of Laphroaigs - beautiful balance of peat and sweet, with a backing of burnt oak logs.  With water, separates into charcoal seared chicken marinated in lemon juice.  

Body - Sweet wood, tapers, oily sweets, oily rags and wet tobacco.  With water, more relaxed and starts to take its time - warming and meaty.  Pretty epic.

Finish - Long, spicy, lemon peppery.  Beautiful, even more so with water.  I could drink this forever. 

What’s not good about it - Nothing.

What’s good about it - Fascinating.  Perfumed, elegantly peated, juicy and balanced.   Unputdownable.

Elements of Islay Lp5, 52.4% A⊕

I reviewed this before but it just goes to show the dangers of drinking peated whisky at the end of a big night.  God, maybe I need to start spitting (heaven forbid).

Anyway, this one has Billy Abbot’s name on it - imagine having your name on a bottle of whisky!  When I congratulated him on it, he was all modest.  Maybe he just said “yes” to a great cask of Laphroaig.  Still, it’s like writing a book.  Quite an achievement.

elem_lp5Nose - Big, lemon, peaty wax.  Sweet magazines, sweet cigarettes, a little crayon and nougat in rice paper.  With water, more nougat and warmer wax.  I might just start drinking Elements of Islay whisky the whole time.  

Body - Lemon sherbet, dusty sweets (fizzers), gentle peat.  With water, dustier and juicier. I like it.

Finish - Medium, more fizzers, then long hammy peat at the end. 

What’s not good about it – The finish is a little short for me.  A little more complexity on the delivery would be nice.  Small comments though, I’d happily spend a night with this.

What’s good about it - Beautiful balance throughout and has an almost Ardbeg sweet peat character.  Perfect nose and bags of complexity on the nose.  

Compared to Lp4, the 5 is less challenging and sweeter on the nose, and hence more delicious, where the 4 is more musky and lightly sulphured.  On the delivery, the 4 is spicier and more sherried, more chewy and much more peated.  The 5 is significantly more easy going.  Both are delicious and both epic Laphroaigs.

Laphroaig 10 year old, 40% A⊕

It is a classic.

Laphroaig_10YO_bottle__87918_zoomNose - Sweet, sweet lemon peat, pine wood shavings, Musky, earthy peat, moss and old bark.  Freshly cooked mussels.  A touch of mint, a woodland floor in the rain.  With water, a little more lemon sugar, brighter, more medicinal peat.  

Body - Light, astringent rope and tannins.  Ripe, citrus peat and antiseptic cream.  Waxy, numbing mandarins.  With water, clearer and fresher.

Finish - Long, thin but oily, surprisingly fruity - orange juice and zest.  With water, disappointingly hot doggy.

What’s not good about it - Not much - an older version would have more fruit and complexity but this is delicious and bright at 10.

What’s good about it - A classic for good reason.

Laphroaig An Cuan Mor, 48% A+

Great name.  Thanks Barry for the sample of this.

Laphroaig-An-Cuan-MorNose - Gentle, sweet and competent.  I’m very much reminded of Uigedail.  Lovely ripe peat, cut plum, a circular saw through pine boards, ozone and a just a little nagging note of old cereal and piss (no one's reading this, right?).

Body - Now I’m reminded of young Kilchoman, with hay, barnyard and bright, sour mineral.  

Finish - Intensely tannic.  A bit of dusty parmas.  Quite long and farmy.

What’s not good about it - A little bad sulphur, and lacking some midrange.

What’s good about it - Bright, complex, a bit naughty, and lacking no intensity, this was unexpectedly interesting and balanced.  Not quite sure why my expectations were set so low, I think it was by the (rather boring) PX cask.

Next up, some random Port Ellens I was lucky enough to get a taste of.

Monday, 27 April 2015

An ode to Islay 7: Lagavulin

lagavulinBefore this extended session, Lagavulin was a bit of a blind spot to me.  Not that I hadn’t tried it, but I hadn’t really got my head round it’s character.  I’ve realised that for me, it’s a sum of the other very individual malts of Islay, with lots of the best bits of each, but with this extra, enticing and quite sexy elegance to it too - less of the bluster and gunpowder of PC, Ardbeg and Laphroaig, not quite so overtly dirty as Bunnahabhain, and in some ways more seductive.  The FI 2014 attracted lots of attention due to a highly favourable review from Serge and at a mere £99 a bottle, with Chris Miles accounting for 5 bottles by himself.  It is, to be fair, very good…

Lagavulin Feis Ile 2014, 54.7% A⊕+

lagavulin-feis-ile-2014Nose - Sweet pear and orchard fruit - juicy to the point of overripe and slightly souring.  But not unbalanced - deep chewy toffee and light, easy peat balances it out.  Extraordinarily rich and balanced, with easy complexity, lingering furniture polish, some vanilla ice cream, tropical fruit, and beautiful round toffee peat notes.  With water, more wax and overripe fruit, deeper, rich peat.  Lovely.

Body - Fizzing, then sharp, then spicy and mouth coatingly oily.  Some bitterness.  Finally, arresting peat.

Finish - Long, intense, fizzing ashes and bright citrus.  Well integrated and a joined up delivery.

What’s not good about it - Bright citrus, lots of toffee and gentle peat might not be a combo you turn to often.

What’s good about it - The whole thing is perfectly joined up, with sweet, bright, gentle peat, balancing wax and toffee.  A drop of water brings the whole thing together and evens out the slightly harsh initial impression.  A long and even delivery.  Absolutely excellent.

Lagavulin Triple Matured Edition, for FOCM, 48% A⊕

Dec14-lagavulinFOCMNose - Sweet and gentle sherry peat, a bit dusty, some charcoal, blackjacks and a touch of vulcanised rubber.  Very grown up, very serious, and a lovely balance.  Water brings the fruit forward and adds a touch of the sea.

Body - Rich, dusty, intense Islay, balanced by great sweetness and candied peel.  BBQed pork and crackling.  With water, the peat opens out and brightens up a little, and brings a little fisherman’s friends.  

Finish - Long, consistent with the nose and initial delivery and balanced between rich BBQ peat and toffee right to the end.

What’s not good about it - A bit dusty BBQ for me to turn to often, and lacks some complexity - it’s mainly those two chords of BBQ and toffee.

What’s good about it - But played beautifully, and consistently right through the very long finish.  An elegant and very tasty Laga.

Lagavulin 16 year old, 43% A+

It’s a classic!

lagavulin-16-year-old-whiskyNose - Warm wax, classical peat, a hint of durian musk, beautifully balanced wood.  Some black cherry, a little raspberry, some ripe kiwi fruit?  With water, some petrol and more Asian fruit.  Lovely.

Body - Sharply wooded, much more structured than the nose suggested.  With a little water, better integrated and more toffee.

Finish - A little abrupt.  Some lingering sweet, balanced peat and ripe wood.

What’s not good about it - The delivery and finish is a little ordinary.  Thin and watered wood prevails at the end.

What’s good about it – A proper, grown up, elegant and quite filthy nose.  Just wonderful- sweet, musky, petrol and balanced wood.  

Lagavulin 12 year old, Diageo Special Release 2012, 56.1% A-

4536-6598lagavulin12yo2012releaseboxNose - Bright, sour, sweet peat.  Flat pack furniture, yoghurt covered raisins, ripe red cherries and sour plums.  A little bit farmyardy; shit and straw - unusual for a Laga - and bright deodorant top notes.   With water, warmer.

Body - Rich peat, sweet top notes of toffee, oak chest and sudocrem (yes, really, I have tasted it by chance but not off a nappy).  A bit metallic.  Lots of cereal too.

Finish - Medium.  Sharp.  Tannic.  Orange squash, including that disappointing watery finish that orange squash has. 

What’s not good about it - I like the nose, a bit, but the delivery is very ordinary for such an esteemed whisky.  Quite bitter really, although the medicinal aspect is quite entertaining.  Quite obviously peated.  Not very Lagavulin.

What’s good about it - Rich and complex.  

Lagavulin 12 year old, Diageo Special Release 2014, 54.4% A⊕

lagavulin-12-year-old-2014-special-release-whiskyNose - Lots in common with the 16 year old, but more sprightly wax and classical Islay peat - sweet, zesty and more maritime.  Fresher wood and some men’s deodorant.

Body - Apple, frazzles and toothsome peat.  Retronasally quite zesty - lemon pith and vanilla, and a little mandarin and Christmas spice.  Some rubber tyre.

Finish - Long, satisfying, quite spicy and fizzing.  Lots more zest.

What’s not good about it - Slightly angular and a bit of a bruiser.

What’s good about it - A hugely accomplished, confident teenager.  Balanced, spicy, citrusy and fresh, with lots of complexity and interest.

Lagavulin, Distillery Edition 2010, 52.5% A⊕+

Thanks to Sjoerd for the sample of this.  I’ve been hunting for my own bottle ever since!

18195-171-1Nose - Delicate, almost overripe peating, very enticing with a touch of pickled onions and salt and vinegar Chipsticks (maize snacks).  Balanced, clear and seriously delicious.  Actually it’s making me hungry. Also, a big hit of men’s perfume, or maybe something like CK One.  Wonderful.  Water brings out more dark fruit on the nose and older wood.  This is what I’d expect an SMWS Lagavulin to do to me, should I ever get the chance to smell one!

Body - Sigh... heavenly.  Long, fresh, juicy Islay malt.  It seems to be part Bowmore, part, Ardbeg, part Lagavulin.  Sweet - slightly, masculine wet wood and cardboard, slightly spicy and some black cherry. Epic.  With water, a lot weaker but I’m starting to get those fizzers notes from older Bowmores.

Finish - Very, very long, lots of deep, rich cereal peat and more of that maize snack.  One of the most compelling whiskies I’ve ever tasted.  What’s left, particularly with water, is very tannic and almost coffee-like in it’s bitterness.  

What’s not good about it - Nothing

What’s good about it - Complex, elegant, intense and deeply delicious.

Lagavulin, 12 years old, 1995 Bottled For Friends Of The Classic Malts (in 2008), 48% A⊕+

Thanks to Sjoerd again for the sample of this.  Turns out he used to be quite a buyer of Lagavulin.

lgvob.1995Nose - Dusty, waxy, beautiful wood and gentle peat.  Such an elegant sherried sweetness, with wood dust, green apple, black cherry, a hint of smoked bacon and BBQed pineapple on vanilla brioche.  Perfectly integrated and very compelling. With water, even more of the sherried complexity comes through, it’s practically a Glendronach.

Body - Much more astringent and spicy than I was expecting, with resinous curry spices and a big, toffeed, musky wood hit.  Retronasally sharp, with dusty peat and cider ice lollies.  A big hitter and extremely moreish.

Finish - Long, very sweet, very intense and quite numbing.  Tropical wax burps.  Lots of lingering vanilla.  This is fabulous stuff. 

What’s not good about it - Not much - bit surprising after the Distillery Only 2010 perhaps?

What’s good about it - Delicious.  Intense, complex and highly returnable.

Lagavulin Distillers Edition, Batch lgv.4/502, 1997-2013, 43% A-

Lagavulin-Distillers-Edition-2013-03928Nose - Sweet, light and bright.  Underlying notes of fried raisins, toast and honey, an echo of caraway, parkin.  A little metallic.

Body - Sweet cafe latte, burnt toffee.  Very easy drinking, overly gentle really but retains some fetid peat.

Finish - Short, tannic, a little sulphured.  It should be a bit better from these notes than I’m finding it, it’s just not hanging together for me.

What’s not good about it - A one dimensional delivery with classless peat and tannins.  Obviously it’s not actually that bad, but its classmates are putting it to shame and that’s making me a bit cross.  I’ve been drinking, though.

What’s good about it - The nose is properly beautiful.  Sweet, wooded, leathery and mucky.

Let’s go out on a high.

The Daily Dram, Distilled on Islay, 14 years old, 53.1% A⊕+

1994-2008.  Supposed to be Lagavulin.  Apologies for the photo stolen from Whiskyfun, it’s the best I could find.  I bought the sample from whiskysite.nl.

Islay-14-yo-1994-The-Daily-DramNose - Elegant but dirty (like Quaid’s fantasy woman).  Sweet bandages and melting ice lollies, honey glazed cereal bar and a really bright, juicy, cut red cherry.  Smelling this it’s a really sweet, specific antiseptic cream that I can’t place on the inhale, and burnt, dirty cereal on the exhale.  Winey too, with a strange echo of chapulines and orange.  Interesting stuff and very obviously special.

Body - Spicy, rich, winey and rich cereal peat.  Intensely, sugary sweet, with no problems at all - almost up to dusty parmas.  Warm, beautifully balanced with lots of sweet fruit (mostly orange and fruit glaze), and bitter peat.  

Finish - Long TCP and wood.  Very long, and very balanced, with huge dusty sweetness and wood.  Epic and inspiring, like one of those big old Bowmores.

What’s not good about it - Nothing.

What’s good about it - Everything you could ask for from a peated Islay whisky, and unmistakably Islay.  Intensely sweet, with that TCP peat that really pulls you in, perfect wood and a backing tang of sulphur.  This is a real blockbuster.

Next, and almost finally, everyone’s favourite gateway dram, Laphroaig!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

An ode to Islay 6: Kilchoman

Kilchoman-Logo3Islay’s youngest (functional) distillery calls itself Islay’s farm distillery, and has been in operation for only 10 years, meaning that everything is young.  Here’s where the attitude part of terroir starts to come through though, with floor maltings, barley grown locally and everything done onsite in a small, craft way, the output from Kilchoman has always been incredibly high quality.  They only just upgraded the bottling line (onsite) to mechanise putting the corks in – there’s a brutal job to do by hand all day!  The attitude and quality reminds me a lot of Arran, and when I look at how incredible Arran’s output is now we’re getting 19s and 20s (this year) with the official 18 being so totally wonderful, it really excites me about the future for Kilchoman.

I’ve had a few Kilchomans on this blog before; the 100% Islay 4th Edition was a big favourite, the 2007 Vintage, everyone loves the recent port cask matured, Loch Gorm 2nd edition, and the Abbey Whisky exclusive PX cask, which I grew to like less and less as I worked through my share of the bottle.  No need to gild the lily.

Kilchoman - Feis Ile 2014, 56.7% A⊕

kilchoman-feis-ile-2014-release-whiskyNose - Fresh, cereal, sweet peat.  Vanilla sponge, light phenols and a touch of lavender.  Toasty, quiet coal tar and barley.  A really sweet, tasty nose.  With water, opens up offering more floral sweetness, some boiled sweets and an older peat tone.

Body - Arresting, fresh peated barley.  Young and feisty, but balanced and moreish with bright, herbal, dusty lavender again.  Sourer with water.

Finish - Long, medicinal, numbing and fierce (but balanced) wood bitterness.  Haunting but intense.  With water, some of the intensity is lost and the bitterness is knocked out of kilter, but some Sichuan peppercorns come through.

What’s not good about it - Young, bright and sour.  Untamed, citrus peat.

What’s good about it - Complex, challenging and well made (as ever), beautifully intense peat, balancing sweetness and well integrated.  Fabulous nose, what intensity!

Worth the £80, just, but the 100% Islay 4th edition at half that gives it a serious run for it’s money.

Kilchoman Original Cask Strength, 59.2% A⊕

kilchoman-5-year-old-2009-original-cask-strength-whiskyNose - Sweet, light, breezy peat.  I love Kilchoman’s ability to be fresh like a spring day but seriously, granite strength peated (which is I think, on reflection, why the Abbey PX finish Kilchoman sat so badly with me, it’s just too cloying and confused).  Balanced, confident, ozone dusted cereal and lemon frosting.  Delicious.  With water, sweeter, more vanilla pastry and oiled steel, and that dirty, summertime musk from the Islay Barley.

Body - Classical Kilchoman, and massively Islay.  Dusty sweet lemon, lemon peat, toffee pennies, arrestingly sour.  

Finish - Long, malty and tingling.  Summer in a glass (I don’t understand why people consign peated whiskies to winter).  Retronasally, a little tangerine peel and lingering gunpowder.

What’s not good about it - Nothing as a young, feisty Kilchoman.  The prices on these things are a bit much though.

What’s good about it - Confident, clear, extremely accomplished, classical Kilchoman (very on-style) and seriously drinkable.  Lovely stuff.

Kilchoman Club 2nd Release, Sherry Finish, 58.2% A⊕

October 2008 to November 4 2013, Casks 485-490, 567, 568.  8 first fill bourbon barrels finished in 4 fresh Oloroso butts.  This has a special place in my heart because it was bottled on the date my twin daughters were born.  I am saving my bottle for their 18th birthday so I’ve never tried it until now.  The power of twitter brought me 3cl to try - thanks Rob for the sample!

kilchoman-small-batch-release-kilchoman-club-2nd-editionNose - With this cask billing this should be massive, but remember how young it is.  It’s gentle and herbal, rosemary stalks and hobnobs, oyster shells and ozone.  Complex but restrained, with time the sherry sweetness starts to poke through a bit more, backed by quite a fetid peat note.  With water, it works even better, with the fetid and sweet notes coming together and letting the sherry through.

Body - Here’s the first fill bourbon, immediately sweet on the front of the tongue, backed up by what feels like refill sherry (but is only a finish) and enormous lemon peat.  Water makes it juicier overall, and I’m strangely, and appropriately reminded of jelly boats (jelly poured into the half-shells of oranges, left to set and cut into boat shape segments).

Finish - Long, complex and lots of gunpowder.  Zesty and complex.  A clash of seasons - spring and autumn. Ultimately, more fetid notes, which distracts slightly but then this isn’t supposed to be a party drink, it’s more of a beard stroker.  Also, my lips have gone numb.

What’s not good about it - Lingering, thought provoking old cereal is a bit of a concern.

What’s good about it - But thought provoking is good, and contemplative is even better.   You can’t find young Islay done better than Kilchoman really, I really think if you compare it to young Bunna you see the difference.

Kilchoman Club 3rd Release, Madeira Cask, 58.4% A⊕

February 11th 2010 - November 24 2014 (4 years old)

kilchomanclub3rdeditionlrgNose - Musky.  A big, dirty, wine and Islay nose.  Sweet, juicy red cherry, fried sesame, pencil shavings and soil.  With water, sweeter and rounder, and less brutal.

Body - Salty.  More dirty wine.  Earthy, savoury and grapey.  Prunes, petrol, inner tube, fence panels and liquorice torpedoes.  With water, more wine, more liquorice and juicier.

Finish - Very long, and cigars (the numbing on the front of the tongue).  Salty and tannic.  Very compelling indeed.  I miss cigars.

What’s not good about it - Young and brutal...

What’s good about it - ...but complex and very interesting, and very very well made.  Kilchoman is so epic and such an early age, the mind boggles what the 18 year old will be like.  I regret not buying a bottle of this, I only had a 10cl split of a bottle, but man, I can’t own them all!

Kilchoman Private bottling for Whisky in Leiden 2014, 60.4% A⊕+

Bourbon hogshead.  Cask number 142/2007, 13.06.2007-21.02.2014.

kilchoman-for-whisky-in-leiden-2014-cask-142-2007Nose - Sweet, bright and Laphroaig-like.  Sweet apple and unripe pear, perfect Islay peat - germolene, granite, pastry, rain and ozone.  With water, gentler, the peat is more mineral.

Body - Gunpowder.  Sweet, zesty lemon, metallic cereal and very compelling.  Water brings out lemon zest and juice and a touch of mandarin.

Finish - Long, lemon toffee sweet and straying into spicy.  What a cask!

What’s not good about it - I can’t think of anything given what it is.  

What’s good about it - This is a beautiful, young (6 years old), spicy Kilchoman showing exactly what the distillery can do.

Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2015, 46% A+

Kilchoman’s Loch Gorm releases are traditionally matured in ex Oloroso sherry butts and this latest edition is no exception. Where the 2015 version differs from the previous year is the use of sherry hogsheads to mature a portion of the whisky rather than just sherry butts. This edition will also be marginally older than the five year old 2014 version, it being bottled from casks filled in both 2009 and 2010. [Robbie’s Whisky Merchants] - 2014 edition reviewed here.

1427201982LochGorm2015Nose - Seasidey and sweet.  Seriously seasidey actually - Whitstable harbour with oyster shells baking in the sun, and that factory turning out tons of shells into the yard by the pebble beach.  Behind this, very earthy peat, and some diesel fumes.  I’m not sure if this is summery in it’s own right or just by association with Whitstable.  In terms of fruit; stewed plums with vanilla cream, intense and juicy and I would have definitely called a long spell in an ex bourbon cask.  With water, the fetid peat is back with more fruit, plus chalk dust on the nose.

Body - Sweet, tannic dry, oaky, and back to toffeed.  With water, almost winey (chardonnay, sweet and oaky).  Just a touch of sulphur (I think that’s in the diesel fumes in the nose).

Finish - Long and tannic, with that dry oaky peat Kilchoman does so well. Almost grapefruit bitterness.  It’s a well put together whisky though, quite grown up too.

What’s not good about it - A bit thin compared to some others in this lineup (like the Leiden one).

What’s good about it - Big, complex and summery.  Stern and fun?

SMWS 129.3, Kilchoman, Unwind and set your watch to Islay Time, 4 years old, 60.2% A+

12th September 2008, 1st fill bourbon hogshead, 256 bottles.  I’ve only had three SMWS Kilchomans (although I guess that’s half of them) - 129.1 was wonderful and 129.6 big fun too.  This guy is in the middle - I rarely taste Scotch so young!

kilchoman-4-years-old-smws-1293Nose - Perfume.  Essence of figs, raisins and midget gems.  Big, brutal and toffeed.  It’s so stern and abrupt, it’s making me write short sentences.

Body - Sweet, delicious fruit and intensely peated.  Hay and apple.  Big mango.

Finish - Pear, toffee and oak.  Balanced, high quality cask.

What’s not good about it - Young and brutal.

What’s good about it - Balanced, confident and showing the quality of the spirit.  

Next up, the Laga!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

An ode to Islay 5: Caol Ila

caol-ila-scotch-whisky-logoI’m running out of time in April to finish this set!  Caol Ila’s a firm favourite of mine, primarily from the constant presence in SMWS outturns (if there isn’t one in an outturn, I want to know where it is – looking at you May!).  Before the SMWS 53 obsession, I reviewed most of the OBs, and of course I’ve covered many in other tastings and outturn reviews.  Here’s the last two years FI bottlings and a bunch of other stuff I’ve picked up on the way or not given proper attention to. 

Not much of a logo though, is it.

Caol Ila, Feis Ile 2013, 56.5% A⊕

“Spirit distilled in 1998 has been triple-cask matured. For 12 years it rested in a combination of Refill Butts, Hogsheads and Barrels. The vatted whisky was then allowed to mature for several months in active hogshead casks to impart a spicy/oaky note to the existing delicate Caol Ila smoke. Finally it was treated to a final gentle maturation in European oak.”

CaolIla 2013Nose - Musky sweetness, fecund and perfumed, with hot dogs, cereal and dried prunes.  Some burnt sausage on a BBQ, and a touch of burning insulation.

Body - Plasticky, intense peat and great sweetness.  Balanced and very tasty.

Finish - Long, more hot dog smoke, meaty and savoury with lingering sweetness.  Wood structure at the end is balancing and numbing.
 

What’s not good about it - A little bright, could do with some more richness.

What’s good about it - Meaty and tasty, balanced and bold.  Good stuff.

Caol Ila, Feis Ile 2014, 55.5% A⊕

American oak hogsheads, 1500 bottles.

caol-ila-2002-feis-ile-2014-whiskyNose - Dark, dusty perfume, more fishy and coastal than hot dogs.  Sweet, delicious, if uncomplicated on the nose.

Body - Bright crab apple and unripe pear, balanced sweetness and peat.  Lots of wood and toffee and great waxed peat.  Lovely.

Finish - Medium, balanced with advancing musky notes.  Ends a little ordinarily and a little early but the overall feeling is one of high quality and sweet, tropical, waxy peat.  A rich and high quality Caol Ila.

What’s not good about it - Finish is a little disappointing.

What’s good about it - Everything you want in a Caol Ila - bright, waxed intensity and lots of coastal salt and numbing peat.  Rather good.

Compared: n - 2013 is slightly lighter, a little more musky, less sweetness and intensity and not quite so sexy.   The 2014 is more full and rounded.  b - The 2014 definitely takes it with more midrange and deep sweetness.  Both are good though, I’d be tempted to buy both but might go to the 2014 first.

Caol Ila 1996 Masterpieces, 2014, Speciality Drinks ltd, 62.2% A+

Released at the whisky show 2014 and loudly praised by all.

cilsdl1996Nose - All very restrained - dusty wood spice on the nose and light, sweet peat.  Toffee almonds, toast and jam and some wet rope.  But all very light and blonde.  With water, a little more sweetness comes through - some travel sweets and sesame snaps, and just a hint of the medical - some old bandage and disinfectant cream.  As the whisky opens up though, more sweetness, some musk and wax start to appear.

Body - Delicious cereal and peat arrival, very well balanced and clean.  Very oily.  With water, retronasal citrus dust.  With time, richer and riper.

Finish - Long, old, ripe cereal peat.  Pear and oily toffees.

What’s not good about it - A little simple.  This is a good whisky but I’m not in a rush to secure a bottle.  Better Caol Ilas come out of SMWS every month.

What’s good about it - Elegant and balanced, clean and very well presented.  

Caol Ila G&M Cask Strength, Distilled 2003, 59.6% A+

10.09.2003-13.08.2014, casks 302381, 302382 & 302383 (refill sherry butts)

cigmNose - Masculine (deep cereal, sweat, toffee, blonde oak) and feminine (white flowers, grapes, peat and granite).  This is a complex and arresting nose that draws you in but it doesn’t scream Caol Ila.  With water, more ozone and pickled gherkins, more S&V.

Body - Warm toffee, then huge wood with fireworks, liquorice torpedoes and finally that refill sherry.  Dusty complexity like a big, expensive, OB Ardbeg.  With water, a lot weaker but a bit more fruit (and sherry) to the fore.  

Finish - Wonderfully sweet and wooded, a big, complex, expensive cask edge.  Lovely stuff.

What’s not good about it - Certainly challenging.  Non-relaxing.  Also, not enormously Caol Ila.

What’s good about it - Complex, intense, balanced.  Rewarding, but not that compelling.  I split a bottle of this with friends, and am enjoying my share but I’m not rushing to secure a bottle for the archive.

Caol Ila G&M Private Collection, 1994, Sassicaia Wood Finish, 45% A+

Private-Collection-Caol-Ila-SassicaiaNose - Deep, perfumed, winey and a little spicy.  Dusty Caol Ila peat and enormously delicious on the nose.  Simple but wonderful.

Body - Competent, warm but ordinary Caol Ila, but then a big hit across the palate of dry red wine, Oloroso nut and sulphured tannins.  Epic.

Finish - ...the finish is a little short though, peppery and tannic, with English mustard and sage.

What’s not good about it - A bit of a car crash into dry red wine.  Caol Ila needs that intense, sweet backing to really work and this doesn’t really equal Caol Ila for me.

What’s good about it - An incredible nose, and the immediate delivery rocks with nutty, dry wine and toasted cereal.  

Thanks Barry for the sample!

Caol Ila, 5 years old, Douglas Of Drumlanrig, cask 10409 (refill hogshead), 59.1% A+

Bottled specifically for Loch Fyne in celebration of Feis Ile 2014.

dougllas-18Nose - Sweet, sharp S&V crisps, radish and fried shellfish.  Horseradish.  White bread.  It’s compelling... with water, muskier.  This is great like a young Kilchoman.  

Body - Mussels, malt vinegar, chicken liver paté... but still malt rich and very tasty.  Chips and spring onion with water.  

Finish - More citric acid, balanced but intense.

What’s not good about it - obviously it’s young if that’s a problem.

What good about it - The perfect storm otherwise though - balanced, sour, sweet and really tasty.  Lip smacking stuff...

Thanks Stumbler for the sample!

Caol Ila The Ultimate Selection Cask 302415 , 11 years old, 46% A

Hogshead.  361 bottles.  10.09.02 - 18.09.14

caol-ila-11-years-old-2003-the-ultimate-selectionNose - Sweet and sharp again, mineral and metal.  Weirdly, reminds me a bit of bolognese sauce - stewed meat and oregano.

Body - Fresh, juicy and seasidey.  Sweet seaside rock, crushed oyster shells and pearl barley.

Finish - Medium, a little ordinary, with musky peat coming through at the end, slightly spicy.  All very jolly though.

What’s not good about it - Quite meh, particularly for something with The Ultimate written on the label.  I’d rather pick up a Kilchoman 100% Islay for this kind of money
What’s not good about it – Ordinary. 

What’s good about it - Competent (as you’d expect for Islay’s most competent distillery), juicy, fresh, balanced and gluggable.  Not lighting any fires though.

SMWS 53.213, Caol Ila, A dram at night, fishwives' delight, 18 years old, 56.2% A+

24th August 1995, Refill hogshead, 271 bottles.

I’ve got decaliters of SMWS Caol Ila at home, I flipping love it, and it’s become a bit of a completist thing for me.  As far as I know this was released in Japan and did the rounds in the UK at some member’s tastings at the end of last year (2014), more recently it became available on the UK site.  Thank you John McCheyne for setting me aside a taste of this from the dregs of a tastings bottle!

smws-0053-213n-1Nose - Sweet, bright peat of course, dusty almost.  Rye bread and honey.  In the sinus, smoking fags and ozone, damp wool and lots of cereal.  With water - sweeter, whiter, almost floral, approaching old-Islay dusty refreshers too.  

Body - Robust - peat and copydex.  Green apple and oak, very cereal led.

Finish - Long, very long and spicy.  Sour peat and lots of oak dust.

What’s not good about it - Quite sharp and sour and certainly heavily peated, you’d want to be in the mood for this and personally my eye would stray to SMWS 53.210 (reviewed below) - it has tough competitions from its peers.

What’s good about it - Complex, robust and bold, and typical refill bourbon Caol Ila.  

SMWS 53.198, Caol Ila, Wasabi on a California Roll, 18 years old, 59.1% A⊕

29th August 1995, Refill sherry, 510 bottles.  Reviewed once before (briefly) at the SMWS game and whisky bar.  This is one of those rare SMWS bottles I’m sailing close to actually finishing - not quite yet though!  Hopefully publishing this review will help me let it go.

20150421_215406Nose - This is Caol Ila, pure and bright.  Sweet cereal peat, ozone, tobacco, salt and vinegar crisps, cut grapes and wet coal.  Pure, masculine and confident.  

Body - Ripe berries, salt and vinegar again with intense oak and peat.  Beautifully done.  Water makes it a bit more classical and brings out the perfume/deodorant.  

Finish - Deep, bright, wet cereal.  Apples.  Balanced and long with lingering sweet fruit.

What’s not good about it - Water spoils the finish a touch.  Also, a bit uncompromising.

What’s good about it - Despite being a refill sherry, this does the “boring refill bourbon cask” thing (you know, where the cask doesn’t seem promising on paper but the whole thing just works beautifully) very well.  Big, sweet, Islay nose and a great expression of the distillery.  Complex, balanced and would make a big evening ender.  Not that mine’s over yet..

SMWS 53.210, Caol Ila, Fantastic stuff, 24 years old, 53.3% A⊕+

19th December 1989, refill bourbon, 240 bottles.  Briefly mentioned here before.

20150421_215415Nose - Heavenly.  Deep glaze, pear, apple pie, a far away bonfire.  Sweet, bright, mineral and wet tobacco.  It’s actually making my mouth water.

Body - Ripe and balanced, with some serious wood wax starting to show with this big Islay bruiser’s age.  A touch of parmas at the side of the tongue and loads more tobacco.  With water, riper peat and it feels like a big, important Ardbeg.

Finish - Long, old oak and rolling tobacco in the mouth.  Maybe I just miss the rollies?  Lingering petrol.

What’s not good about -  Nothing.  I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to write proper notes for this bad boy but I love it just as much as ever.  

What’s good about it - Sweet and complex on the nose.  A big, old and important delivery.  Fruits, parmas, well integrated peat and good wood.  This is a big whisky - go back in time and buy a case.

Only three surviving distilleries left, the young but incredibly competent Kilchoman next…